Pizza and wings go together in bars – and apparently, in the United Arab Emirates.
Two U.S. restaurant chains, Papa Murphy's and Wingstop, announced plans this week to expand in the Middle East, starting with the UAE.
Papa Murphy’s, the U.S. pizza franchise known for its take-and-bake model, is planning on opening 100 locations across the Middle East, according to Arabian Business. About half of the stores are tentatively planned for the UAE.
While Papa Murphy’s is the fifth-largest pizza company in the U.S., with 1,350 stores in 38 states, the move will mark its first international expansion outside of Canada. Known for its model of preparing uncooked pizzas for customers to take home and bake themselves, Papa Murphy's will be one of the first U.S. chains to take the concept global.
The company plans to stagger store openings over the next 10 years. The first two units will open in Dubai.
Related: Top Food Franchises of 2013
Chicken-wing franchise Wingstop is similarly expanding with an exclusive multi-unit deal with AWGAL Investments. In the next few years, a minimum of 15 Wingstop restaurants will open in the UAE. The first will open in mid-2014.
Wingstop has already begun its international expansion in Mexico, where it plans to develop 120 restaurants. By the end of 2013, the company will have opened the first of 50 potential Wingstop restaurants in Russia as well as the first of 20 in Singapore.
The UAE is already home to a number of franchises. Subway has a large presence and TGI Fridays chose the UAE as its first Middle East expansion back in 1996. Coffee-shop chains Caffé Nero and Caribou Café have locations in the UAE as well.
The International Franchise Association cites the country’s free-trade zones, which allow 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes, as a driving factor in making in country attractive for foreign investment. As franchises increasingly seek international presence, many find the UAE to be fertile ground as a business-friendly environment for new units.